The jump to HTC U11 from the HTC 10 proves that the Taiwanese phone maker is willing to redesign its phone every year, not the usual every other year.
Its new flagship, HTC 11U, takes cues from the very big HTC U Ultra, and brings them to a normal-sized phone – one with faster specs.
Is HTC’s smartphone overhaul enough of an upgrade over last year’s phone to deserve your attention in 2017? After all, the HTC 10 will now be cheaper.
There’s a lot of newness riding on the HTC 11U success, so a comparison to last year’s HTC 10 is in order.
HTC U11 says goodbye to dull aluminum and ushers in a new glass era for HTC’s flagship phone. It’s literally your new shiny object.
HTC 10, on the other hand, has a solid aluminum unibody design to it. It doesn’t have vibrant new colors, but it does have a premium-looking, all-metal finish.
Here’s a trade-off: You’re trading improved water-resistance for a 3.5mm headphone jack.
HTC U11 upgrades to a water-resistant rating of IP67, which lets you submerge the phone up to 1 meter deep in water for up to 30 minutes. However, you’re going to have to opt for the dongle life, or a pair of Bluetooth headphones.
In the future, the HTC U11 is going to squeeze the phone to activate apps and shortcuts, but that unique functionality isn’t launching right away.
HTC U11 upgrades to a larger 5.5-inch Quad HD display, making it feel more like it’s meant to compete with rival flagships in 2017.
It’s a significant upgrade for a phone series that’s always stayed small outside of the recent HTC U Ultra. It does stick with LCD over the popular AMOLED panel.
HTC 10 has a really sharp looking LCD screen, too, and it measures 5.2 inches. It’s plenty big (and maybe preferable) for some people, even if the trend is going toward mega-large all-screen phones.
OS and power
HTC U11 runs the latest flavor of Google’s mobile operating system, Android Nougat, and so can every upgraded HTC 10 by now. No difference here.
However, the new phone has a big specs bump, with Qualcomm’s new Snapdragon 835 chipset and a choice of either 4GB or 6GB of RAM. The HTC 10 has the older Snapdragon 820 chip – good in its own right – and 4GB of RAM.
If you’re looking to future-proof your smartphone and avoid slowdown in the future, the HTC U11 is the better long-term bet.
Battery and camera
HTC doesn’t rock the boat with a big battery life upgrade. In fact, our HTC U11 vs HTC 10 comparison shows that it stays the same year-to-year.
Both have a 3,000mAh battery, larger than an iPhone, but still smaller than the Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus battery size we felt was conservative (for obvious explosion-avoiding reasons).
Of course, we have to test out the battery in a full HTC U11 review to really see if there’s more life to this one. Despite the identical specs, it could employ battery-saving tricks.
HTC U11 is promising a big camera upgrade on the front and back, with a 12MP sensor and f/1.7 aperture on the back and – get this – a 16MP camera on front.
That could make your selfies look more complete. So can the new panorama mode from the front-facing camera, meant for wide group selfies. We’re testing this one out further to see how it does.
HTC 10 has a 12MP rear camera, too, and it did well in its own right with a f/1.8 aperture. But the front-facing camera was 5MP, and that’s where the year-over-year boost is.
The HTC U11 has a slightly tweaked name, but a significant upgrade in all ways. Its design and performance hit a new peak.
The HTC 10 is a likable phone, too, with all of last year’s competent specs. It’s aged well in 12 months and the battery size is identical.
The true differences are in the larger 5.5-inch screen, faster chipset and better camera. We’re dying to see how the front-facing photos look in all conditions.
We’ll update this HTC U11 vs HTC 10 comparison as we get more testing time in with the new phone and hold it up to last year’s flagship.
By Matt Swider
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